Opinion

The Great Debate

Outsourcing faces new era of scrutiny

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Outsourcing, Indian-style, is challenged as never before by an erosion in business confidence that makes corporate spending, even to generate quick cost-savings, harder to justify.

“No New Investment” is the order of the day; cost avoidance, the mantra; zero percent, the growth target in the current era of uncertainty.

Software service providers emerged out of the 2000-2002 technology spending bust with sales growing up to 50 percent a year as they won over companies to contract out inefficient operations instead of managing them in-house.

But shocks to the world economy seen over the past 18 months are triggering reassessments of corporate growth expectations, cost considerations and operational accountability. It’s no longer safe to assume that the logic that drove outsourcing in the past will drive it again, once the economy picks up.

First 100 Days: Obama and Chavez

Pedro Burelli — Pedro Burelli, a former Member of the Executive Board of Petróleos de Venezuela is a frequent commentator on matters dealing with Venezuela and oil. He is the Managing Partner of B+V Consulting, a corporate finance advisory firm. The views expressed are his own. —

In the early days of his unrelenting scrap with President George W. Bush, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez laid a boastful wager: I will outlast you! For most of eight years, Chavez accused Mister Danger – a favorite moniker – of trying to eliminate him and lobbed countless epithets – drunkard, assassin, devil, coward, illiterate, criminal, donkey are but a sample – against the growingly unpopular U.S. president.

Besides sky-rocketing oil prices, nothing aided Chavez’s domestic standing and international projection more than George W. Bush’s mere existence. Blaring “truth” to power and dispensing petrodollars left and right, north and south, brought Chavez both acolytes and notoriety.

First 100 Days: Obama and trade

Sean West– Sean West is a Comparative Analytics analyst at the political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group. The views expressed are his own. —

Fear that President Barack Obama will backslide on America’s free trade commitments is misplaced—in fact, he may eventually expand America’s commitment to liberalization. His pledge to revisit the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) amidst an economic slump was one of his most widely discussed policy positions of the campaign season.

The economy—and, notably, unemployment—has gotten far worse since Obama derived political benefit from making the rhetorical connection between trade and job loss. Obama could use the magic policy window of his first 100 days to push through controversial but politically plausible anti-free trade measures. He will not do so—and if he does not do it now, he is unlikely to revisit it later.

First 100 Days: Fix the banks

morici– Peter Morici is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Business and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The views expressed are his own. —

For every new president, campaign promises and inaugural idealism must give way to the hard choices that measure the mettle of their leadership.

Now Barack Obama must act pragmatically to fix the banks or the economy will sink under their weight.

Nationalization: Terrible but inevitable

James Saft Great Debate – James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Nationalization of weak banks in Britain and the United States may be preferable to current plans for insurance and soft “bad banks” schemes which risk being swamped by future losses as assets, especially real estate, continue to crater.

An insurance program, getting banks to identify their riskiest assets to the government which will insure them for a fee, is one of the main planks of a UK plan to bail out banks unveiled this week.

First 100 Days: Obama’s first climate change target

Mary D. Nichols– Mary D. Nichols is Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, the lead agency for implementing California’s landmark climate change law, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The views expressed are her own. –

After eight years of inaction on climate change by the federal government, we can now look forward to the Obama administration tackling global warming head on. With not a minute to lose, Lisa Jackson, the soon-to-be new head of the EPA, should move quickly to capitalize on the momentum of states that have so far been the leaders in fighting global warming. There is no better place to start than by establishing a national greenhouse gas emission standard for automobiles based on California’s landmark clean car law.

California has always been a pioneer in setting tough automobile emission standards. Our regulations paved the way for lead-free gas, the catalytic converter, and many other innovations that were later adopted as the national standard. As a result, we have eliminated 99 percent of harmful pollution pouring out of autos today compared to a 1960s era car, leading to clearer skies and cleaner air in our cities.

First 100 Days: Obama, Iran and Richard Nixon

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own -

Here is a piece of advice for Barack Obama for dealing with Iran, one of the countries that will loom large in his presidency. Forget the way five of your predecessors dealt with the place. Take your cue from Richard Nixon and his 1972 breakthrough with China.

Just as Nixon and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, realized that a quarter of a century of isolating and weakening China had not served America’s interests, so Obama should acknowledge that 30 years of U.S. policy since the 1979 Iranian revolution has failed and that what is needed is a grand bargain, a shift as fundamental as the one Nixon achieved with China.

Those suggestions come from Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, a husband-and-wife team of independent experts who worked on Middle East policy on the National Security Council during George W. Bush’s first term in the White House.

Do we need a credit policy?

John Kemp Great Debate– John Kemp is a Reuters columnist.  The views expressed are his own –

The last eighteen months have witnessed a revolution in financial regulation — if by that we mean a fundamental reconstruction, total change or turn round from the previous orthodoxy occurring in a relatively compressed time.

In particular, the sheer scale of recent policy interventions in the banking system is throwing up very uncomfortable questions about the government’s role in the economy, centered on its function as the ultimate re-insurer of risk and its function via the central bank as “lender of last resort” (LOLR) to the banking system.

China Inc. takes stock after overseas buying spree

wei_gu_debate– Wei Gu is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own –

Abundant liquidity, government support and a strong yuan fueled Chinese companies’ overseas buying spree.

But since they went out at the peak of the market and did not have a clear strategy for acquisitions, it should come as no surprise that most of those deals have turned sour. Once bitten, twice shy.

Scoop! U.S. offers to cooperate with world

Paul Taylor Great Debate– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

An American president vowing to cooperate with the rest of the world would barely be news if it did not follow eight years’ of George W. Bush’s tenure in the White House.

Barack Obama’s inauguration address was thin on foreign policy specifics, but his pledge to work with allies and adversaries on global problems from nuclear weapons to climate change was a message many have waited impatiently to hear.

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